• Oscars and Bafta film awards delayed by two months 
  • Eligibility rules around theatrical release also relaxed 
  • Academy and Bafta highlight diversity initiatives 

Rami Malek accepts Best Actor Oscars 2019 credit Todd Wawrychuk AMPAS

2021 Oscars: Delayed along with the BAFTAs due to coronavirus

Source: Todd Wawrychuk AMPAS

Two of the industry’s biggest awards ceremonies have been rescheduled due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus. 

The Oscars ceremony was due to be staged on 28 February 2021 but will now take place on 25 April.  

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Oscars, has extended the eligibility window from 31 December to the end of February.  

According to Variety, an Academy member described the delay as “a much needed boost for those films who may have been stalled in post-production”.

With coronavirus restrictions prompting the closure of cinemas the Academy has also temporarily relaxed its eligibility rules; previously, films must have been shown in a Los Angeles cinema for at least a week. But with cinemas still closed, films that debut on streaming services will be eligible.  

Similarly, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) has confirmed that its film awards will be delayed by two months; the ceremony was due to take place 14 February but will now be held on Sunday 11 April. 

Bafta also announced temporary changes to its eligibility rules. The organisation said that as UK cinemas have been closed since 20 March the changes will “ensure that titles which had an intended theatrical release are not penalised due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cinemas”.  

Chair of Bafta’s film committee Marc Samuelson said: “We have pushed back by two months to give all films the best possible chance to be released and considered properly.  

“As cinemas gradually re-open we know that the major releases will dominate screens.  Relaxing the scale of theatrical release required, including releases on VOD in some cases, and pushing back the date of the Awards should help the smaller, independent, documentary, foreign language and particularly the British films to be seen in good time for EE British Academy Film Awards in 2021. 

“The date of the 2021 Awards has to be set now to allow distributors to make plans, but the current Awards Review is considering all aspects of the Awards, including the date from 2022, and our relationship to other awards ceremonies.” 

Encouraging diversity  
Bafta said that it is reviewing its membership, nominations and voting processes, a process which was announced after this year’s Bafta Film Nominations.  

Bafta also said it would continue to roll out the BFI’s (British Film Institute) Diversity Standards as a requirement for eligibility across the Games and Television Awards, as well as tightening the requirements, and look to introduce them across other categories within the film awards.  

It also said it “looks forward to continuing work with the BFI, the Academy and other international partners to effect real change”. 

The Academy has made a series of announcements to emphasise its commitment to encouraging diversity.  It has committed to ensuring there will always be 10 films in the best film category rather than varying between five and 10, which could mean more diverse films shortlisted for the award.  

It is part of the organisation’s pledge to “level the playing field” and ensure greater diversity across its awards.  

Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set out its equity and inclusion initiative, dubbed ‘Academy Aperture 2025’.  

Described as a “phased initiative”, the Academy said it would further the organisation’s “ongoing efforts to advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community”.  

The first phase of the initiative outlines specific goals for the Oscars and Academy governance, membership, and workplace culture. 

“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” said Academy chief executive Dawn Hudson.  

“The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”